White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Monday that President Trump remains “very much against” NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem because he believes “it’s disrespectful to our military.”
The issue resurfaced in Trump’s tweets Sunday night after NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the nation’s professional football league encourages players to “peacefully protest” in light of the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police.
“The president is very much against kneeling in general,” McEnany said at a White House briefing.
“The president has made clear for years that kneeling is tied to our national anthem, that it does not respect our military men and women across the country. he’s not a fan of the kneeling movement he’s made that very clear, particularly because he thinks it’s disrespectful to our military, as the kneeling originated at the kneeling during the national anthem.”
In 2016, then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the National Anthem in protest of police brutality. Supporters followed, creating significant nationwide debate.
At a political rally in Alabama in 2017, Trump called on NFL owners to fire players who kneel.
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a b—h off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired,’” Trump said.
In weekend tweets, Trump reiterated his opposition to players kneeling.
Trump tweeted Sunday: “Could it be even remotely possible that in Roger Goodell’s rather interesting statement of peace and reconciliation, he was intimating that it would now be O.K. for the players to KNEEL, or not to stand, for the National Anthem, thereby disrespecting our Country & our Flag?”
On Friday, he wrote, “There are other things you can protest, but not our Great American Flag – NO KNEELING!”
Kneeling has taken on a broader meaning for police brutality activists after the killing of Floyd by Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin, who kneeled on his neck for nearly 9 minutes until he died. On Monday morning, congressional Democrats kneeled for the same amount of time in Floyd’s memory before unveiling a police reform bill.
Chauvin has been fired and charged with second-degree murder; three associates were fired and are charged with aiding and abetting murder.
McEnany also said Trump had not yet reviewed the Democrats’ reform bill as the text was not immediately released.
The press secretary said Trump “definitely believes there are instances of racism” in policing, but that “he believes most of our police officers are good, hardworking people.”
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